The findings of a recent study done on rats has shed light on how brain controls movement say researchers. By activating a single brain cell in a rat can make its whiskers twitch, a discovery researchers say could help decipher how the brain controls movement. Eventually this could help scientists develop devices paralyzed people could control, such as robotic arms.
Initially researchers say they thought that because the part of the brain that controls movement contains so many cells, an individual cell would not have much impact, but this recent study has changed their view on what a single cell can do.
For the study researchers used tiny electrodes to excite individual brain cells in the motor cortex of anesthetized rats. The brain's motor cortex, which controls movement, does not directly activate muscles, but signals a pattern generator that sends more detailed commands to the muscles. Researchers say "These pattern generators are not very complicated and could easily be generated by a small computer to control a robot arm."
However Scientists differ on how many brain cells will have to be involved to control such devices but they agree that these encouraging findings, could help them develop brain-controlled devices in the future.